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I am professor of history at De Montfort University's International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC). 

My latest book is The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby which is published by Bloomsbury and was awarded the 2016 Aberdare Prize for sports history book of the year, the fourth time I have won the accolade. My next book will be How Football Began: The Global Origins of the World's Football Codes, to be published in 2018.

I have worked as a historical consultant for a number of TV and radio shows, including Alfie Allen's Football: A Brief History, BBC Radio 4's thirty-part series Sport and the British with Clare Balding and the BBC4 television documentary Eddie Waring: Mr Rugby League, as well as appearing in numerous other television and radio programmes. 

I am a trustee of Rugby League Cares, the rugby league charity, a member of the RFU's World Rugby Museum sub-committee, a director of the Hull Kingston Rovers Community Trust and a member of the Museum Board of the Raeburn Place Foundation. I am also a member of the Historians' Panel of the National Football Museum Hall of Fame. In April 2017 I was appointed to the Yorkshire and Humber committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund

I was chairperson of the British Society for Sports History in 2001 and the editor of the academic journal Sport in History from 2001 to 2007. Before joining the ICSHC I led the Institute for Northern Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University,

I am currently supervising the Arts and Humanities Research Council PhD studentship 'Women and Rugby League', which is a Collaborative Doctoral Award in partnership with the Rugby Football League, and 'An Oral History of England Rugby Union Internationals, 1945-95', which is also a Collaborative Award in partnership with the Rugby Football Union. From October 2017 I will be supervising an AHRC studentship exploring the history of women in rugby union.

Previous supervisions include the history of women's cricket, sport in pre-World War One Bradford, the political sociology of the North of England, the history of rugby in Irelandcricket in Victorian Yorkshire and the anthropology of the rugby league transfer system.

If you would like to discuss research or study with me, or any other matter related to my work, please contact me at